The story of a brilliant but weatherbeaten ski-sail adventure I did in Norway in April was in the Sunday Telegraph Discover section last month.
Some nice pictures were used in the article, including some provided by Zuba Ski, the British-run company that organised the trip, and some by our “first mate”, Hayet Mohkenache, a sailor and photographer from Marseille.
But as I have so many more, I am posting some here, alongside a couple of extracts from the piece.
“Strapped to the deck as we left the pretty marina the following morning were five pairs of skis; stashed below were our boots, skins, crampons and other paraphernalia, from sun-cream to goggles.
Compared with a standard European mountain refuge our quarters were palatial – a three-berth cabin at the stern, a double at the bow, two flushing loos, hot showers and plenty of drying space.
In the living and dining room were sofa-like benches that doubled as beds for Sture (almost pronounced “steerer”) and his assistant, Hayet Mohkenache, from Marseille.
The fridge in the neat galley was jammed with vacuum-packed, home-cooked suppers supplied by Markens Grode (“growth of the soil”), a café and farm at Kjerringoy where almost everything is home-raised (animals, vegetables and crops) or locally hunted (moose), picked (cloudberries) or fished (salmon, halibut and cod).
Cloud-laden skies heightened the mood of adventure as we advanced north, watching the mountains become snowier.
Within half an hour the three braver members of our party had climbed Lille’s mast while I (an avoider of heights) was studying a map of the region with our Italian mountain guide, Marco Zaninetti.”
Later that week…
“We picnicked sitting on tufts of heather alongside mountain streams, and I gradually appreciated why Sture had skied solely in Scandinavia since taking up the sport aged two. “Why would I go to the Alps? he reasoned. “Here we have sea and mountains.”
In the event Lille’s sails were rarely hoisted, due either to a lack of wind or far too much wind: one day we motored for four hours against the current in storm-force conditions to reach the district’s only “safe” harbour, Nordfold, nodding nervously as Sture promised, “There’s no danger.”
Being stuck there for two days brought unexpected joys – and was nowhere near as limiting as being confined to an Alpine hut during bad weather. Nordfold has just 300 inhabitants, a bar that opens “when someone wants to have a party” and hills rather than mountains.
But Sture, to keep us entertained, arranged a visit to a salmon farm – and to a centre for gender equality studies which has its headquarters in the village.
There we heard about the Gammen Hut, an example of a dugnad, built by a community for everyone.
“Each spring,” the director of the centre told us, “locals run up to check their fitness: half an hour is an OK time.”
On skis, it took us 90 minutes for the 550m ascent; en route we loaded rucksacks with logs from a tiny wood-store specially for visitors to the hut – a dugnad in itself.
At the Gammen, the size of a small garden shed, we lit the wood-stove, signed the visitors’ book and spent a cosy afternoon playing cards as a storm raged outside.”
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